25-year old René from Mexico studies the M.A. International Management at SRH University Berlin. Having studied and then worked in the US, that was quite the change - but in a good way, as he explains in this interview:
When searching for a university, which factors played a role in your decision making?
After five years of living in the US, I definitely wanted to be in Europe to have a full perspective of both sides of the world - so location turned into one of the main factors. Also, price, course curriculum and size of the university were important to me.
What do you learn in the International Management degree at SRH University?
I learned to be a problem solver with the resources I had. Sometimes people tend to overthink, and that ends up complicating things. The management program at SRH showed me how to make decisions quickly and adapt to different scenarios in order to accomplish my goals.
With so many free degree programmes offered at public universities in Germany, what made you choose a private university? Would you make the same decision again?
I liked that SRH was really responsive and helpful during the application process, which usually does not happen with public universities. Also, SRH offered a very international and diverse program with the opportunity of obtaining a double degree. I think this is what made me choose SRH.
Once you live in Germany, you see how much recognition public universities get, so it’s hard to say if I would make the same decision again. But private universities have a lot of small advantages that people usually do not see. For instance, direct contact with your professors on a daily basis, and very interactive lectures. At SRH, everyone knows me as Rene, and I am not just a matriculation number.
Have you done an internship during your studies?
I am currently a working student at GetYourGuide in Berlin [a tourism startup with 500 employees, valued at 1.6 billion euros]. I work on the talent acquisition team as a business sourcer. It has been an incredible experience to combine my studies with working for GetYourGuide. I have been able to put into practice many tools I learned at SRH, but also I have expanded my knowledge on how the Berlin startup industry works. These learnings are very valuable for me as it is something that I would have never experienced if I had not come to SRH.
René in the library
What surprised you about SRH and about Berlin?
I was surprised about SRH's campus. Coming from the US I was expecting a big university campus with different facilities for students. In the US a lot of students decide to live on campus since there are dorms, cafeterias, cafes, gyms and anything you may need. Some campuses even have their own supermarket.
That is why I was surprised about the SRH campus being just three floors of a building in the city. It was unexpected but came with the advantage of not getting lost to find my classroom, and making friends quickly. I also adapted easier to the city since in the US you basically do not leave the campus that much.
Another aspect that was surprising is how helpful and friendly professors are. It is very easy to reach them, ask questions and even establish a friendship with them. Berlin was quite surprising as well. I was expecting the stereotypical German city with a lot of order and rules. At the beginning it took me some time to learn to like Berlin. Today I am very happy living in a city where you can find something for everyone and you can be yourself!
Where did you study your Bachelor’s and how do the two universities/cities compare?
I did my Bachelor's in Rochester, New York at Roberts Wesleyan College. This was a completely different experience in all aspects. University life in the US is very different from university life in Europe.
In the US, education is always combined with extracurricular activities like social groups and sports. I played tennis for the university team and this involved at least 20 hours of my week. And the university campus had everything the students needed, for example a pool, gym, dorms, library, track field, grocery shop and so on. On the other hand, at SRH I am mostly just going to university for lectures, and then heading back home afterwards.
The cities were also very different. Rochester is a small city in upstate New York, with no public transport and a very small international community, two of my favorite things that Berlin offers. In terms of similarities, both of them have a very long and cold winter but there is more snow in Rochester!
How are you enjoying the city? Is it a good place for international students?
Yes, Berlin is the best city for international students! It is very easy to move and explore the city. Public transport reaches everywhere! People are super open-minded and the city is full of international students and activities of every kind.
To whom can you recommend SRH?
I would recommend SRH to people who feel more comfortable at a small university. If you are looking for the typical big university I would not suggest SRH. One SRH’s strengths is that the university offers a complete experience combining education with other activities that help you meet and connect with fellow students and also professors.
Where do you see yourself five years after graduation?
I see myself managing my own business, probably back in Mexico. I would like to take all the experiences that I have learned from being abroad these last years and apply them there. I do not have anything concrete yet, but having something of my own is the plan.
If you had to sum up your experience at SRH University Berlin in one sentence:
Leave your comfort zone to expand your horizons and develop yourself professionally, but also as a person!
This article was produced and published in cooperation with SRH University Berlin.